How Diagnosis May Impact Your Emotions
Your experience of breast cancer is your own. No reaction or feeling is more or less expected, and none is more or less “normal.” What’s important is to find a balance that helps you move forward from diagnosis to post-treatment.
At the beginning, your doctors are giving you a lot of new medical information. You might feel overwhelmed and wonder how you will ever make sense of everything. Practical concerns about health insurance, keeping track of your medical records, getting transportation to and from appointments, and adjusting your home and work life to accommodate treatments may also be worrying you. Think about who you can turn to for help with these tasks.
You may feel pressure, from yourself or from others, to start treatment quickly. This could cause you to worry that you don’t have enough time to gather and process the information you need. Remember that in most cases, breast cancer treatment is not an emergency and taking time to make your decisions is OK.
Start by talking with your care team about a timeline for treatment. Get clarity about how long you can take to make decisions. Take this time to learn more about your diagnosis and treatment options, and to gather the people you want around you for support. Taking time to understand your options may give you confidence. Once you have a solid plan, you will likely feel less uncertain. Taking action may help you feel calmer and in control.
You may also be concerned about how your treatment will affect your or your family’s day-to-day life. You may worry about keeping your job, income, or health insurance if you have to take time off from work. Make a list of the things that worry you and share them with your provider. He or she may be able to direct you to resources that will help you manage money, job and insurance concerns.
Also share your list of practical concerns — whether transportation, child care or food shopping — with your personal support team. Remember, people want to help and giving them a job will make them feel better as well.
As you develop a plan and transition toward treatment, the feelings you had right after your diagnosis may lessen or change. Once you have a plan, you may feel more hopeful and grounded. Many women feel better when treatments begin because they know the therapy is working to get rid of the cancer.
Surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, hormonal therapy, and radiation therapy can prompt strong or mixed emotions, too. Perhaps you dread starting treatment and worry about side effects. Share your concerns with your care team before treatment begins. They can address your fears and suggest ways to manage or even prevent some side effects.